Former Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher, who is currently an NFL analyst with Fox Sports 1, recently told Fox Football Daily that the team should stick with backup Josh McCown even if Jay Cutler is cleared to play this week against the Cleveland Browns.
But head coach Marc Trestman has stated that when Cutler is healthy, and has received the proper clearance, he will be re-inserted as the starting quarterback.
The question is who is right here—Urlacher or Trestman?
To answer this question, let’s take a closer look at the tale of the tape.
Cutler was playing some of the best football in his career when he went down with a groin injury against the Washington Redskins in Week 7.
This assertion is supported by the fact that he led the offense to game-winning touchdowns in the fourth quarter of the first three games of the year, which helped the Bears get off to a 3-0 start.
On the season, Cutler has thrown for 1,908 yards with 13 touchdowns and eight interceptions, while completing 63 percent of his passes.
Another factor that bodes well for Cutler is his ability to throw the deep ball, which is something that McCown is able to do only in spurts.
However, in spite of how well Cutler has played this season, the Bears are just 4-4 when he has started, and a .500 record isn’t anything to get fired up about.
Now, let’s talk about McCown.
As was previously mentioned, McCown is not able to throw the deep ball with great consistency, but there are a few other factors that should be noted.
For example, the team is 3-2 in the five games that McCown has started, which is a higher winning percentage than the team’s record when Cutler is under center.
In addition to that, McCown has the same number of touchdowns as Cutler (13), but he has thrown only one interception. This is mostly due to the fact that he makes good decisions with the football and does not take a lot of risks.
From a statistical standpoint, McCown’s numbers on the season are pretty impressive for a backup quarterback.
He has thrown for 1,809 yards, while completing 67 percent of his passes for a passing rating of 109.8, which is third-best in the NFL.
To bring this point home even further, let’s not forget that it was McCown who led the Bears to their first win at Lambeau Field since 2007, and he became the first quarterback in franchise history to throw for over 300 yards in three consecutive games.
Both McCown and Trestman have publicly said that Cutler is the starting quarterback of this team. Even more to the point, on a recent appearance on the “Carmen and Jurko Show”, McCown says that he expects to step aside upon Cutler’s return.
While it would be foolish for any of us on the outside to doubt the head coach, based on the numbers, I would have to agree with Urlacher.
That being said, the Bears should in fact go with McCown because there are only a handful of quarterbacks who are playing better than he is right now, and he is a big reason why Chicago is still in playoff contention.
James Tillman III is a resident of the Chicago-land area, who follows all the teams in the local region. James is currently a sports contributor for various sites including Football Nation, Sports Kings/Pass the Pill and Sports Rantz Magazine. James is also a former Featured Sports Contributor for Yahoo! Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @jtillman9693